ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has started gaining world support on the Kashmir issue weeks after India merged the disputed territory into its union.

Islamabad relished as more than 50 countries urged India to stop human rights violations in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Senior government officials told The Nation that Pakistan was optimistic of good support on Kashmir at the United National General Assembly this month.

“There has been vocal support from several countries. We are happy at this and hope for momentum to build at the UNGA. President Trump’s seriousness (to help resolve the Kashmir issue) has encouraged us (Pakistan),” said a close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Another official said PM Khan has tasked all the top diplomats to raise the issue at every available forum. “Our campaign will continue even after the UNGA session,” he added.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump again offered to help Pakistan and India resolve the conflict over Kashmir. Trump said: “I am willing to help them if they want. They know that. That (offer) is out there.” He also hoped to get along well with both Pakistan and India.

Later, more than 50 countries in the UN, including Turkey, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged India to stop human rights violations in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

“The worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in the Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir, especially following decisions taken on August 5, 2019, requires urgent attention by the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms,” the countries said in a joint statement after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Consistent with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and human rights standards and international law, the international community should ask for: Respect and protection of fundamental human rights of the people of Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, especially the right to life, liberty and security,” the countries said.

They also called for the immediate lifting of the curfew, ending the communications shutdown, and the release of political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Qureshi on Tuesday evoked past and current atrocities in Europe, Africa and Asia when he addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The forlorn, traumatised towns, mountains, plains and valleys of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir reverberate today, with the grim reminders of Rwanda, Srebrenica, the Rohingya, and the pogrom of Gujarat,” he said.

“I shudder to mention the word genocide here, but I must ... The Kashmiri people in the occupied territory - as a national, ethnic, racial and religious group of people - face grave threats to their lives, way of living and livelihoods from a murderous, misogynistic and xenophobic regime.”

Qureshi, speaking to reporters, said: “I do not see in the present environment any possibility of a bilateral engagement with India.”

He urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council to help defuse tensions. “Today 8 million people are in prison, deprived of every political and civil liberty. The world cannot remain silent,” he said.

He said that if India used some pretext to attack Pakistan, Islamabad would respond. “And we will respond with force, and you never know, we could be into an accidental war,” he said.

Qureshi said third party mediation was the only option to resolve the festering Kashmir dispute.

He said Swiss officials have reportedly included Kashmir issue in the agenda of their expected meeting with Indian leaders, which is a welcoming development.

The Foreign Minister said India will have to act upon the UN resolutions and international laws.

He urged New Delhi to immediately lift curfew and give right to live to the people of Occupied Kashmir. He said children were unable to go to their schools and patients are deprived of medical facilities there.

Last month Ankara had called on the United Nations to take more initiative in resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute within the framework of UN resolutions.

Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since August 5, after India scrapped its special status as the government has blocked communication access and imposed restrictions to thwart any protests in the region.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees. Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.

From 1954 until August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws. The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

Pakistan and India both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.